Tag Archives: Insomnia Radio Daily Dose

Reviewed: Sons of Frida – The Bulgarian LP

1 Oct

Sons of Frida released The Bulgarian LP in May 2010

Download the song ‘Burn’ for free from the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose

Parisian post-rockers Sons of Frida, purveyors of beautiful musical chaos and complex aural textures, started life in 2004 and brought out their fourth album, The Bulgarian LP, earlier this year. It is equal parts dissonant anarchy, driving post-rock/math-rock and lyrics that could soundtrack a descent into madness. Despite its almost crushingly tumultuous sound, the album is cohesive and engaging, pulling you under with a riptide of noisy rock and deliciously dark tones.

There is a decidedly bi-polar feeling to this record, as it throws in occasional, fleeting moments of melodic bliss before the music descends once again into the chaos, where you find a juddering mix of clashing guitars, prominent, driving bass lines and heavy, tight drumming. From the dichotomy of dissonance and harmony, to the occasional haunting trumpet that pierces through the layers of guitars and the hint of a French accent hiding behind the English lyrics, this is a record that is in a constant struggle with itself, forever reinforcing the ever so slight discomfort that you get from such an intense musical experience.

But, while The Bulgarian LP embraces the dark fragments of the human spirit and displays them with candour, it never lets those fragments take a complete hold. Like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, there is a glimmer of harmony that peppers the record that can’t be shaken. The album is a glorious cacophony, a pulsing landscape of dark discord and dissatisfaction cut with the sweetest flickers of light.

[As the first proper, direct submission to missmorrisonsmix.com, The Bulgarian LP by Sons of Frida will always be special to this site; listen out for a track on the first episode of the forthcoming Miss Morrison’s Mix podcast!]

Reviewed: Mahri Autumn – ri-solv

10 Aug

Mahri Autumn released ri-solv in March 2010

The track ‘High Time’ is available to download for FREE on the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose (11 August 2010)

Review also published on thejustinwayneshow.com

Australian musician Marianthe Loucataris has set the bar high on her first solo endeavor with the sweeping, emotive sounds of ambient-folk record ri-solv. The album is a revealing collection of ten songs that float over your ears on a breeze of acoustic delicacy which underpins a most soulful voice that is full of quiet passion and deep yearning.

The album begins tentatively, introducing the record’s underpinning elements with the accordion-rich strains of ‘High Time’ – a flowing, folksy piece peppered with acoustic guitar, piano and Egyptian percussion (of which more will be said later on). But what really catches you is your first introduction to Loucataris’ voice, which is a beautiful, overlayed harmonic experience; she sings with purpose, but with an utterly charming reserved undertone that permeates each song with a sense of intrigue. It can at times make you feel a little voyeuristic, as if by listening to her songs you become privy to a very private form of expression, but that only serves to make the album more touching and personal. The record ebbs and flows between confidence and reservedness, but always with a delicate touch from the vocals.

As well as her strong vocal talents, what sets this record in a very interesting and rather unique light is Loucataris’ use of Egyptian percussion techniques, which reflect both her cultural heritage and her time spent studying under an Egyptian drumming master. Setting these traditional percussive sounds in a very modern soundscape makes listening all the more pleasurable, as you will hear curious sounds that fit perfectly into the context of these ambient, enveloping tracks that, honestly, can’t really be pinned onto any genre. She creates ethereal soundscapes, with overlapping vocal melodies and layer upon layer of carefully-placed instrumental and electronic elements.

I’ve spun this album many times, and it is one from which you can garner something new from each listen. From twinkling piano and gorgeous accordion drones, to the delicately plucked acoustic guitar and unique percussive elements, and of course, that astounding emotionally exposed voice, Mahri Autum’s ri-solv is a beautiful cluster of deeply heartfelt songs that are wonderful in their subtle complexity.

The album is available to download for whatever price you choose.

Reviewed: Mojave – Crow’s Funeral

9 Sep

Reviewed for the Insomnia Radio: Daily Dose (click to hear/download the track ‘For a While’)

Today’s Daily Dose track ‘For a While’ comes to you from Vancouver band Mojave’s second album Crow’s Funeral. Mojave are lead singer/guitarist LJ and guitarist/sometimes singer Paul. They are an elusive pair, no last names given, but after hearing their album you could feel as if you know them, such are the depths to which they plunge into their emotions and experiences.

Part folkish-rock, part symphonic and entirely emotive, the album is a haunting mix of urgent, pleading vocals, delicate guitars and rich, warm strings.

The instrumentation is pleasingly varied, moving from epic, almost operatic numbers full of strings like this Daily Dose track, to banjo-led ballads (the title track), with some theramin thrown in for colour on ‘Wake Up’. The lyrics are consistently poignant, and delivered so beautifully and tentatively that the emotional feel of each song is truly compelling.

There is a sense of vulnerability on this record that makes you feel as if you’ve become privy to someone’s innermost thoughts, and an honesty that makes it captivating if not a tiny bit unnerving. However, the dark secrets of this album are cut through in the middle by ‘California’, a hopeful and uplifting track that lends some sunshine to an otherwise heartwrenching record.

Crow’s Funeral is a dark, resounding album full of many different layers, both musically and emotionally, which gives a glimpse into the lives of its composers that can catch you off guard; a rare feat, and a beautiful one.

Reviewed: Swimming in Speakers EP

13 Jun

The song ‘In Knowing’, from this EP, is Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose today (13/06/09)

If New York based duo Swimming in Speakers (multi-instrumentalist Chris Clarke and lead vocalist Meadow Eliz) can do one thing, it’s defy categorisation. In fact, they can do lots of things, including synth-dipped kitchy electro, gentle heart melting acoustic delicacy and trippy vocal-led musical explorations, and all topped with lilting vocals from Eliz that can be haunting, impassioned or whimsical and are always hugely charming. I’m not even going to attempt to label them with genres because honestly I can’t; each song on the EP takes you down a different path that’s always in a stark contrast to the last.

The EP’s leading track ‘In Knowing’ is, at the risk of sounding way over-excited, my idea of a perfect pop song. Full of wholesome synthy goodness, classic Casio cool and Eliz’s swaying, laid back, warbling vocals, as well as being more catchy than swine flu, this song has everything that good pop needs plus the unique style that SiS bring to the table. Among countless other nuances the verses actually have a slight tinge of Bhangra about them, in the vocals at least, which just serves to make this song all the more interesting. I’ve listened to this song about 20 times in the last few days, it’s seriously addictive.

‘In Knowing’ is definitely the standout song of the EP for me, but the rest is definitely worth your time and really shows off the versatility of this exciting new band, and to further entice you you can get the whole thing for FREE from the excellent 100000fans.com!

Swimming in Speakers are another band who realise the power of Twitter and use it to their full advantage, and they’re also really nice! Find them as @sistheband.

Reviewed: The Flying Change – Pain is a Reliable Signal

10 Jun

‘Dirty White Coats’, from this album, is Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose track today (10/06/09).

The Flying Change, AKA songwriter Sam Jacobs and a selection of talented musicians, had an ingenious idea for spreading awareness and getting awesome coverage for his new record Pain is a Reliable Signal (released 19/05/09). He gave it away for free to anyone who wanted it, in exchange for a promise that whoever downloaded it posted a review, a tweet or told a friend about it in exchange. It’s such a neat idea, and I’m such a pessimist, that I was almost convinced that the album would be awful and I’d have nothing nice to say about it – I was very wrong on that front. So here I am Sam, making good on the exchange.

Pain is a Reliable Signal is a labour of love in every sense of the phrase. It is a simple, honest, from-the-heart outpouring of an album, of the kind which comes along very rarely. Inspired by his wife’s (and his) experiences with the US  health care system during a difficult time, this record draws you in and makes you feel every emotion that Jacobs feels – every pain, every moment of frustration, every fleeting hope and crushing blow.

It is accompanied by a growing track-by-track explanation of the songwriting process (the stories are still a work in progress) on his blog, of how each song came into being and what the feelings were behind it. In this way it is an interactive album, you can read the story along with each song and somehow feel more involved with the music, getting a rare, personal insight into the creative and emotional process of songcraft.

Jacobs’ voice and style is reminiscent of many of the great singer-songwriters of our time; the gravely tones of Cohen, the potent simplicity of Dylan and some charming, slightly off-key moments reminiscent of Neil Young. But I found myself concentrating not as much on the music or the voice, but instead on the powerfully emotive lyrics which weave the listener into every song in an inescapable mesh of  empathy and passionate emotion.

Musically it is a dreamy landscape of delicately layered pop, discordant symphonies of noise and back-to-basics singer-songwriter sensibilities with a whole host of talented musicians thrown in on top. The music of each song works to reflect the temperament of the lyrics and accentuate their emotive power, such that you can’t be a passive listener of this record – you are engrossed.

The whole record is a triumph both musically and lyrically, but there are a couple of songs that I want to mention specially because of their personal impact on me. ‘Dirty White Coats’ (featured on Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose), for me sums up the whole feeling of this album; the frustrations that Jacobs felt at the flawed medical system that treated his wife and the pain it caused him to see her suffer, juxtaposed against a musical background of lightly plucked guitar and gentle, lulling strings. The second is the album’s closing song ‘The Northern Bay’, which with it’s final line softly utters, in a breaking voice, “I will take your pain away…”, and in a beautiful, fading cadence the album is brought to its conclusion. If you can listen to that song and not at least get goosebumps, then I don’t want to know you.

Download Pain is a Reliable Signal for FREE here, and be sure to promote it in any way you can. Tweet, blog or write about it, send it to your friends, just make sure this gets heard as far and as wide as possible 🙂

Also read the song explanations (found underneath the download links), and check back for more as they appear. Plus, check out The Flying Change blog, and find Sam on Twitter as @theflyingchange

And if you’re feeling generous (and I think you should), you can purchase the album here.

Reviewed: Morningside – The Abuse You Own

2 Jun

I reviewed a preview track from Morningside’s new album last month, and now the time has come to review the album in full as it’s scheduled for online release in the UK today (02/06/09), and the US release is scheduled for 27/06/09.

I got to know Morningside through a combination of Twitter and the blogosphere, and they are a shining example of a band who know how to use the internet to their advantage. Through a mutual following on Twitter they read an article (this one) that I wrote about free music, blogged it, and when I commented to thank them they offered me some music. From then I submitted a track of theirs to the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose (listen and download here) along with a short review, and now I’ve been sent a copy of the full album, which I’m now going to plug the hell out of to you. Great how the internet works, eh?

Anyway, to the music. Morningside’s approach to self-promotion and networking may be modern but their sound is stone-cold classic, it’s rock for rock’s sake and it works. The Abuse You Own has a definite post-grunge feel to it but with elements which hark back to the vintage rock sounds of the 70s and early 80s. It’s a whole-hearted, foot stompingly rockin’ record but with a melodic undercurrent that lifts it away from sounding too grungy. Add in solid guitar work, some excellent solos and vocals that are passionate and just slightly strained and you’ve got a cracking record, which is just what this has turned out to be.

Listen out for ‘Givin’ It Up’, a good old fashioned classic rock knees-up; ‘Alone In Your Grave’ which was featured on Insomnia Radio’s Daily Dose and is 100% pure rock n’ roll; and ‘Photobooth’, an energetic riff-fest that mixes things up with its varied structure and face-melting guitar solo.

In all, a great offering from a band that knows how to rock. And after hearing this, I definitely want to party with these guys!

The Abuse You Own is available to buy at the iTunes Store, or for retro CDs go to CDBaby! I thoroughly recommend it.

Find Morningside on MySpace and Twitter

Reviewed: MorningSide track ‘Alone In Your Grave’ (advanced listen, album scheduled for release 27/06/09)

1 May

morningside_albumcover_11Philadelphia foursome MorningSide are releasing their second full-length album The Abuse You Own later this year, but here at Insomnia Radio we couldn’t wait that long so we’ve got a sneaky preview for you.

‘Alone In Your Grave’ is a stellar example of what makes melodic indie rock great; hammering guitars, a soaring chorus, and a constant contrast of textures switching from sparse to dense instrumentation all come together to make a well polished, passionate, anthemic tune. Reminiscent of the post-grunge of the early noughties, it has elements of Foo Fighters, some Creed-sounding riffs (except not s**t) and a bit of Bush. Plus, with an unexpected and excellent bit of slide guitar leading into the obligatory solo, MorningSide put a surprising twist on the song and add extra colour to this all-round great track.

It’s got a sound that left me nostalgic for my teenage years and a chorus that stayed with me for hours, so if this song is anything to go by, bring on the album!

‘Alone In Your Grave’ is the Insomnia Radio Daily Dose track for 01/05/09

Find MorningSide on MySpace

and Twitter